American allies in Asia hailed the re-election of President Bush as a victory for the global war on terror and expressed hope his second term would help defuse nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Others in the region feared another Bush term could lead to more global turmoil.
In Europe, meanwhile, allies alienated by Bush’s first four years in power offered to let bygones be bygones, saying they want to work with the new administration, which claimed a renewed mandate Wednesday.
“It’s a victory for the anti-terrorism cause,” Australian Prime Minister John Howard, a staunch U.S. ally and friend of Bush, told reporters in Sydney on Thursday. “This is a strong reaffirmation of his leadership of the United States in its fight against world terrorism.”
Pakistan, a key ally in the war on terror, also welcomed the re-election, but Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said he hoped the world’s Muslims, including Palestinians and Kashmiris, would fare better under the policies of Bush’s second term.
“Muslims were hurt by some of his policies (in his first term), but I hope he will take them along in his upcoming term,” he said.
View from Malaysia's streets
Shopkeeper Harun Abdul Mahmud, 52, said in Malaysia he was “very, very disappointed with the Americans for choosing Bush.”
“I fear he will take actions that could cause the relationship between Muslims and the West to worsen. This will make the world a more dangerous place,” Harun said
Stock markets in Japan, New Zealand and Australia rose Thursday as did their currencies against the U.S. dollar, which slipped on fears that a second Bush term will do little to wind back the American budget deficit. Elsewhere in Asia, stock markets slid back on profit-taking.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he hoped Bush’s win would bring closer ties between Tokyo and Washington.
“The Japan-U.S. alliance is the basis for this country’s security as well as peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.
In Seoul, the government said it would continue to “closely cooperate” with Bush for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear dispute with North Korea.
Three rounds of talks on curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions yielded no breakthroughs, and North Korea rejected a scheduled fourth round. Observers speculated North Korea was holding out for a possible victory by Kerry, who expressed support for bilateral talks favored by the isolated communist nation.
Will North Korea return to table now?
South Korean officials said Thursday they believe North Korea will now return to the six-nation talks among the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia.
“North Korea will consider it has to continue to deal with the Bush administration, and there is a possibility that it will respond to the talks,” South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon said, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
North Korea did not immediately comment on Bush’s re-election.
Chinese President Hu Jintao said Beijing looked forward to promoting “constructive cooperative relations” with Washington.
China opposed the war in Iraq, but China-U.S. relations have been mostly smooth over the past few years as its economy and trade with the United States have expanded.
The two countries have played “a positive role in promoting peace and development in Asia Pacific and rest of the world,” Hu was cited as saying by the Xinhua news agency.
Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who embraced the U.S.-led war on terror, congratulated Bush, saying, “Our shared political vision encompasses not only blood shed in war but energies put forth to win the peace in many parts of the world, including in our own country.”
Indonesia knows stakes in war on terror
Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, which has been hit by a string of deadly attacks by al-Qaida-linked terrorists in recent years, pledged to work closely with Bush in the fight against terrorism.
“As countries that have fallen victims to terrorism, the United States and Indonesia are only too painfully aware of what is at stake,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said.
In Europe, French President Jacques Chirac sent a congratulatory letter saying he hoped Bush’s second term “will be the occasion for strengthening the French-American friendship.”
“We will be unable to find satisfying responses to the numerous challenges that confront us today without a close trans-Atlantic partnership,” wrote Chirac.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who also clashed with Bush over Iraq, wrote the president a congratulatory letter expressing “great expectations” for renewed cooperation.
Election interest in Europe was intense, as was the disappointment many felt over Bush’s victory.
“There is a major and lasting lack of understanding between the American people and the rest of the world, in both directions,” said Hubert Vedrine, a former French foreign minister. “Almost all nations, with perhaps three or four exceptions, wanted change.”